Zufelt Family Feb 2015

Zufelt Family Feb 2015

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Singapore Hospital Experience

I’ve found the c-section delivery experience different here than in the US. Overall I prefer here better but though I’d write down some of the differences because it’s been entertaining to say the least.


·         Instead of checking into the hospital through the lobby, going to a pre-op place then being taken to another staging area until I could go into the operating room I went straight to MY room and had time to unpack my things (which we left in the car because you don’t need them up front in the US).

·         Parking charges were covered here for the first four days after delivery. That’s a nice perk but we didn’t realize how valuable it was until my fifth day here when I was discharged. Brian parked from 9am to 4pm, not quite a full day. It cost him $39.50. Ouch.  Then the hospital parking is often full (land space is at a premium here). He had to park at the mall next door or other shopping spots. We’ve spent at least $100 in parking in five days. Never mind the road tolls to get to the hospital and petrol cost.

·         You can take your baby home in a taxi. No car seat installation checks. No mandatory bring your car seat to the nursery to make sure the baby fits or whatever the heck they are checking for, to be honest I don’t actually know what the poor nurses are doing.

·         No wheelchair required. If you can walk yourself to your car/taxi then, well, you can walk yourself down. In the US it was a liability issue. No discharging mother was allowed to walk to the front doors that I’ve ever seen.

·         Since Ashlyn is in NICU I have to pump the breast milk and have it delivered downstairs. I did so for my regular admission days. Since I had to stay an extra day my quota of breast milk bottles ran out or my free allotment was gone with the regular price of admission. The last day they told me I had to buy bottles. Seriously? I had to buy my own bottles and they would sterilize them for me. Or if I had some at home I could bring those in. I almost started laughing at the nurse that came to inform me of my little problem. Brian was about to leave the house to come see me and I caught him just in time. He went digging through the storage tub of baby gear and pulled out every bottle and cap we owned and brought it all to me with a Sharpie. We labeled all my bottles and lids and commenced using my own gear. Isn’t that hilarious?

·         You can check your bill at any moment in time with a quick trip to the cashier downstairs. Try doing that in the US. Just this last autumn I got a statement of benefits for a doctor visit one of us had in 2009 in the US. I can’t imagine why the system is about to fall apart if they haven’t figured out a bill from over two years ago. Here you pay in full at discharge. End of story. No fighting for payments to be made and in the end, everything is cheaper. My final bill for everything was $12,000. We estimate Ashlyn will be near the same at $12,000, maybe a $1,000 more now with this extra, extra, extra day since she was just under $8,000 two days ago. And we have to pay it. The hospital isn’t going to hassle with the insurance knocking down costs and just choosing not to pay for random stuff. Not their problem. And overall, if you convert the currency, we think it’s a pretty good bargain all things considered. I believe my US c-sections were around $10,000 US without an extra day. The cost here, converted to US dollars is about $9,000 for me and included extra surgery time and an extra day stay. That’s what happens when you take insurance games out of the mix and pay actual cost instead of imaginary cost at negotiated below cost rates.
Of course we do have insurance in the US but that’s my problem, not the hospitals problem. We’re out of network – go figure. So let the games in the US begin…we will file with Aetna this week to get at least a portion of those bills reimbursed.

·         NICU is totally different. Outstanding care in both I believe, though this is our first personal experience.  Difference is that the NICU here is just for the babies. No vinyl style chair for a recovering mommy to sit in and visit her baby and nurse. When I come down they push an office chair over for me to sit on. No arm rests, no relaxing holding your baby. They totally encourage you to come down lots, they just don’t make a camp out here style atmosphere.
Then it’s time to finally feed the baby. In the US I have sat or stood next to friends with their NICU babies and you can have as much or little privacy as you like with curtains or blankets. Realizing your location though, I don’t see a huge need to be overly private. Everyone knows what’s going on and as long as you are somewhat discrete if others are around then who cares.  Well here they are so incredibly worried about privacy when feeding. They pull the curtain all the way around you tight. And if it got bumped or came open even two inches on the far corner really far from me, they would get up from the nurses desk, walk all the way over and close that precious two inches of curtain to maintain my complete and total privacy. I’m sure it was for respect of hypersensitive mommies doing this for their first time but holy cow they were like curtain Nazis and Brian and I would laugh in there.

·         Room size is totally different. With Ben and Jacob I had my own room by virtue of available space at the hospitals. With Maddie I had four roommates in four days. You could have fit my shared room here in Singapore in the space of the single bed room in the US. Wow were things tight. The visitor chair couldn’t even be turned to face the patient because there wasn’t enough room for it that direction. The privacy curtain around my bed was right near the foot of the bed but on the other side when they wheeled in each of my two roommates the transport beds didn’t fit in the tiny aisle space so it was half over the patient on their way in. When they tried to unload one gal into her bed the transport bed wheels hooked on my tray table and knocked it over. I could totally see what was going to happen so I just grabbed the ceramic mug of water and held it until they passed and then righted my tray table back.  Talk about tight quarters!

·         Eating post c-section has always been a down side for me. With Ben I had to pass gas before I could eat. It took two days. Add that to the day it took to labor before we opted for a c-section and I was famished. Three days of no food was brutal. Maddie and Jake I got to cut out the extra day and I believe I probably ate about 24-36 hours later. Here there was no gas passing requirement and I got soft diet at 24 hours – breakfast late the next morning, real food by dinner the next day. My second roommate was a c-section too. She had her surgery in the afternoon and ate full breakfast the next day. She also got her tubes out less than 24 hours later, to me that’s too fast. It means the catheter is gone and you have to move to the toilet, often and quickly but your body isn’t ready to do that yet. At least mine isn’t. Mine came out about the same as in the US, 30 hours or so post-surgery.

·         Caesar. That’s what they are called here. No c-sections in Singapore. Lots of people don’t know what I mean unless they think for a second. So I’ve now had three c-sections and one Caesar.

·         Nurse care was not good, maybe even rotten with Ben. They were busy and didn’t listen to me about the pain. Being the first I didn’t know any better. They got near the point of yelling at me for not feeding enough. The last day, when they changed me from IV pain meds in my back at the epidural site to orals I almost punched the poor, sweet southern nurse. She said, “Well sweetheart, this thing wasn’t even in!” Seriously? I had no pain meds after a c-section for three days. I could barely get out of bed the entire three days. I was a complete and total disaster and they kept telling me push this little button and it will give you more pain meds. And for three days those pain meds slowly, slowly leaked one drip at a time into my sheets. Idiots. But no one would listen to me when I said I needed help and the pain meds weren’t working. Overall it was a very, very bad experience.
Maddie and Jake deliveries had good nursing and I was pretty happy.
Ashlyn’s delivery here in Singapore was fantastic! The nurses came within about 90 seconds of pushing the call button almost every time. Only once did they use the intercom to ask what I needed instead of coming straight in to help me. They were happy, helpful, prompt and attentive. Every nurse, every shift, every time. They fell in love with Jacob too and he did not disappoint. More than one nurse actually came in to my room to ask if Jacob was coming to visit this day or that. They were so sweet to him and he loved them too. It’s the specs and his smile I think. Makes him too cute to resist.
One day I showered and got the chills and got stuck in the bathroom completely unable to move because my muscles were clenched so tight I couldn’t budge. Couldn’t get to my bed, couldn’t get dressed, couldn’t even reach the emergency cord to pull for help. I was crying and upset because it hurts so bad (it’s happened all four times for me – it was just really bad timing this time). I was stuck, naked on the toilet shivering and praying for help. When I had  a brief break in the shivers I reached a second towel and got it on my shoulders. When I had my next break I made a break for my bed wrapped in two towels. When I finally got myself out of the bathroom in my room the nurses were just finishing changing me sheets and I climbed in and one nurse just hugged me and let me cry for a minute, then brought me warm milo and checked back often to make sure my temperature was regulating, then got me a wheelchair so I didn’t miss my first chance to hold Ashlyn and feed her which is what I thought was going to happen and was part of why I was so upset. The next feeding would be shift change so no visitors, then it would be six more hours of waiting since we could just take her off her oxygen for feedings only, not just to hold her. They got me warm and in a wheelchair so I could go down to the NICU. The nurses here are fantastic and each one was from a different country. I had nurses from Singapore, Philipines, Yemen and tons of other countries, all with a story of what brought them here.


If I were to have to choose, I’d choose to have any other babies in Singapore. The care is fantastic.

1 comment:

Juli said...

I never heard about your pain med experience with Ben. That makes me so mad! I have had similar experiences with nurses not believing me when I tell them something. I've also had really great nurses!